HIV infection rates mostly stable, increasing among young, gay black men
August 3rd, 2011
04:03 PM ET

HIV infection rates mostly stable, increasing among young, gay black men

The number of new HIV infections in the United States has remained steady, at around 50,000 cases a year over the past four years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The new data, published online Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, show the largest increases were among bisexual men and men who have sex with men (MSM). Of that group, young, black men had what the agency called "alarming increases."

"More than 30 years into the HIV epidemic, about 50,000 people in this country still become infected each year," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. "Not only do men who have sex with men continue to account for most new infections, young gay and bisexual men are the only group in which infections are increasing, and this increase is particularly concerning among young African American MSM."

The data look at the period between 2006 and 2009. It's the first time HIV incidence numbers were calculated using a lab test that distinguishes recent infections from existing infections. The CDC estimates that MSM make up 2% of the U.S. population but 61% of 2009's new infections. Young men between the ages of 13 and 29 who had sex with men had the highest new infection rate/increase - more than a quarter of all new cases. The agency says while young MSM of all ethnic backgrounds have been hit hard, young blacks were the only group to see significant increases over the four-year period. Infection rates among this population jumped 48% during that time.

The reasons, according to the CDC, aren't clear. It says individual risk behaviors alone do not account for the increase. It says black MSM tend to have fewer sexual partners, are less likely to do IV drugs and are no more likely to have anal intercourse than other gay men. But the data suggests a number of possibilities for these trends - that young black MSM often don't know their HIV status, that the stigma of HIV and homosexuality in the black community can often impede the use of prevention services and that often there is limited access to health care services like testing and treatment in the black community.

Timeline: HIV/AIDS at 30 

"We are deeply concerned by the alarming rise in new HIV infections in young, black gay and bisexual men and the continued impact of HIV among young gay and bisexual men of all races," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "We cannot allow the health of a new generation of gay men to be lost to a preventable disease. It's time to renew the focus on HIV among gay men and confront the homophobia and stigma that all too often accompany this disease."

It's not just African Americans who are disproportionately affected. The data suggest that communities of color are shouldering a heavier burden. In 2009, blacks made up 14% of the population but accounted for 44% of all new infections. Their infection rate was almost 8 times that of whites. The rate among black men was the highest of any group - more than six times that of white men. The infection rate among black women was 15 times higher than white women. Hispanics make up about 16% of the population, and 20% of new HIV infections. Their rate of infection is about three times that of whites.

CDC: Prevention key in new push on HIV/AIDS

Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, says the data are encouraging in that the number of new infections has significantly dropped from the peak seen in the mid-1980s, however there is still much work ahead. "We have plateaued at an unacceptably high level. Without intensified HIV prevention efforts, we are likely to face an era of rising infection rates and higher health care costs for a preventable condition that already affects more than 1 million people in this country."

Phill Wilson, founder & chief executive officer of the Black AIDS Institute, whose mission is to stop the pandemic in black communities says we have the tools to end the epidemic, but prevention efforts have been stalled for some time.

"What these numbers tell us is we are not going to be successful in driving down new infections until and unless we invest in those populations most at risk, and in America today those populations are black Americans, men who have sex with men of all races and especially young, black men who have sex with men," Wilson said. "It is outrageous that over the last three years reported in this data, since 2006-2009, we see a 48% increase in new cases among young black men who have sex with men age 13-29. We have to build the infrastructure and the capacity in these communities to respond to this epidemic in an appropriate manner."

The agency says it's working on a number of interventions for hardest hit populations. Officials hope some of the latest new prevention strategies like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) - exposing high risk populations to HIV drugs to prevent infection in both MSM, and heterosexual men and women - will have a strong impact on infection rates. In July, new data from several studies found PrEP was safe and effective in preventing infection in these populations.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. cmxsmitty

    Yes Chris – they should be able to get married – to each other.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
  2. Timme62

    So true spellbee, so true.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    Cool, man

    August 3, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
  4. John

    That doesn't make sense especially seeing that HIV doesn't only affect a certain people.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  5. rtbrno65

    I came here expecting to read some incredibly stupid comments and I have not been disappointed.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • raymond

      Me too, i just knew i wouyld read healthy dialogue from ppl wanting to help end this.how is the relationship between two men called a lifestyle, and how does one explain those long term couples who are healthy and non-infected???? I just knew this comment section was posted by the producer of this article, and she hoped to get healthy positive feedback and wholistic suggestion the aid the fight...so far its ignorant rants

      August 3, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
  6. Bkeepr

    Are they including the prison population in the statistics of young black males 13-29?

    August 3, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
  7. cadecker

    ignorant but correct

    August 3, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
  8. aahawks

    First, being Gay is not a lifestyle. Second, its fine as long as you are smart and use precautions like everyone else.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
  9. Wondering

    Does anyone think that it's because black man generally don't talk to doctors about their health?

    August 3, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
  10. Big Bob

    Wow! Dog bites man. Film at 11.

    Ct SSN

    August 3, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  11. Liberace

    The only thing deadly in this article are the ribbed sweaters and mom jeans on the people in the picture.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  12. Bkeepr

    Who do you mean?....Elin (Tiger) Woods, Jenniger Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum (super model)...on and on and on, Lol. I'm sure all of your women are waaay more beautiful than them!

    August 3, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  13. MM

    Oh please. Punishment for sins? No, you're just being your normal, judgmental self. Throw in a bit of smug self-superiority, and you've got many of the loudmouth Christian fundamentalists who insist that Jesus is on their side.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. Your Jesus is.

    August 3, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  14. Taino777

    I couldn't agree more

    August 3, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
  15. Chartreuxe

    As a white woman (we are not girls) I didn't get that message from this article.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  16. tnuc

    Nope, there isnt one. He's dead. No one cares

    August 3, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  17. Chartreuxe

    Since this is about an effect on a certain population the word 'gay' is relevant here...or are you trolling?

    August 3, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
  18. Cedar Rapids

    so god just flat out hates the non-gays that get it as well for no good reason huh?

    August 3, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
  19. Sean


    Insecure much?

    August 3, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
  20. Bruce33315

    How can infection rates be both "stable" and "rising"????

    Who is responsible for reviewing these headlines? Send that person to remedial English immediately before they become more like FOX NEWS than CNN.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
  21. StupidGuy

    Incredible stupidity from bigots is a constant in this world.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
  22. Mary

    @Raymond – I couldn't agree more..

    August 3, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
  23. Mary

    @ Lincoln, I feel so sorry for you, your life must be so sad and lonely...pathetic..

    August 3, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  24. joechi

    Being human, irresponsible or ignorant is bad for you health.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
  25. thetruth

    I believe in freedom of speech but all I see is ingorant racist rants! No wonder America is hated so much... CNN wake up and delete these awful comments!!

    August 3, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  26. cameo35

    ............that's sad..............Springfield Mass has a high rate of HIV............scary, Im straight, I better start using condoms again....

    August 3, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
  27. phearis

    HIV's been around for 30 years, If people are still too stupid to do a little background checking or wrap it, it's their own fault.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
  28. JP

    I have never read such ignorant comments to an article. All of us are sinners black or white, gay or straight, so be careful what you put out there. If hell is anything like the weather is around the country, some of you better go outside and get use to the it, because what you typing leads to the place that will be a couple more hundred degrees hotter.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
  29. Paul

    Ignorance is unhealthy but it still exists.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  30. JMMP

    The issue here is not the hate that is spewed by the comment posters-The real issue is whether or not our young DAUGHTERS are safe. I have 3 young daughters in that age group and I would be devastated if one of them came home with HIV from one of these young blackmen. I believe the threat is real and so should everyone else. And to thos Bible references...Let's just say that I would check the validity of that reference...

    August 3, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  31. mm

    @aahawks, if it's not a lifestyle what is it? (call it ignorant, but it's a genuine question, btw) chemical? brain wiring? bc the equipment is all the same, but it's just how you choose to use it?

    August 3, 2011 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
  32. Conky2012

    You mean the old testament god punishes gays harshly. The new testament describes a completely different god. Anyone who has any real understanding of the bible would realize that the new testament is not describing the same god as the old testament does.

    August 3, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.